The naturally-aspirated 3.8 in today’s Nice Price or No Dice Buick GS is 90 horsepower shy of the turbocharged edition in the contemporary Grand National. Let’s see if the price is also commensurately lower, or if it’s a Grand National disaster.
Asking under five grand for a clean-running car in today’s market is laudable. Make that car an AWD BMW wagon with a five-speed stick and that suddenly becomes super impressive. That was what we had with yesterday’s 2002 BMW 325Xi Touring and with its $4,900 asking price, it received more than just lauding in the comments; it took home a hefty 82 percent Nice Price win. Good thing it’s a wagon and has the space.
Today’s 1986 Buick Century Gran Sport is a type of car that I don’t think any manufacturer makes anymore. While called a coupe at the time, the model’s upright posture really makes it more of a traditional two-door sedan. Buick had sold an actual coupe in the form of the RWD Regal. That Regal received an optional turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine and special badging to create the Grand National, a car that was a hit then and is sought after today by collectors and enthusiasts alike.
So successful was the Grand National as a halo car for Buick that the company attempted to load a number of other models onto its coattails. One such was the Gran Sport, a handful of which were built on the A-body Century two-door only for 1986. These models carried special badging and alloy wheels and were made available exclusively in Darth Vader’s underoos black.
Now, you may note that the name Gran Sport has lost its “d” which is a little weird. Buick has used that badge to denote its sporty models since all the way back in 1965. Odder still, however, is the other part of the model’s badging, carried on each fender and on the standard bucket seats. That looks suspiciously like the Grand National’s badge with a looping arrow that implies a turbocharger. That’s something else lost in translation.
The Gran Sport uses the same 3.8-liter V6 as the Grand National, albeit in naturally aspirated form. That means 150 horsepower rather than the turbo’d and intercooled 1986 Regal’s 245. It’s also FWD rather than RWD. Transmission duties in the Gran Sport are handled by a TH125 four-speed automatic. A front disc/rear drum brake setup ensures entertaining stopping opportunities.
This was mostly a cosmetic package, including model-specific GS badging (which Buick called “ornamentation” in the model’s brochure) on the car. That included branding on the alloy wheels’ center caps and on the steering wheel. The interior featured similar upholstery as its bigger brother, the Grand National, a sporty three-spoke wheel, and a floor shifter.
A set of BUICK decals came with the model, although those were shipped from the factory in the trunk, with the intention that they would be installed on the flanks by the dealer. This GS lacks those, either in or on the car.
The seller says the GS does have its original paint, and that is deemed to be good enough to make the car “a good ten-footer.” The only really noticeable flaws are some puckering in the plastic of the bumper caps and what looks to be varmint damage in the under-hood padding and trunk insulation.
The interior appears to be in excellent shape, with the only complaint being some minor wear on the seats. According to the ad, everything on the car, save for the cruise control and power antenna, works as it should. Over its 36-year life, the GS has racked up 106,000 miles, which is kind of Mama Bear— not too little and not too much. It has a clean title and will have the build sheet and a bunch of brochures thrown in as part of the sale.
That sale will require parting with $7,000 and it’s now time for you all to weigh in on whether that’s a fair price or not. What do you think? Is this one-year sporty Century worth that $7,000 asking as it sits? Or, for that much, would it have to be far better than just a 10-foot car?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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